‘Harley’s been building Sportsters for so long the motor is a proven unit’
‘The race series bikes used stock engines, which shows how tough they are’
“Like many Harleys, the XR has a Kevlar belt and just like chain drives, you should always check the condition. Belts aren’t susceptible to failure, but if the pulleys pick up a stone this can punch a hole through the belt. If the hole is in the middle of the belt and not more than 7-8mm in diameter it’s not a problem, but if the damage cuts the edge of the belt it can lead to a tear and a snapped belt.
“The good news for the XR is that unlike some models that require the swingarm to be removed to swap the belt, you only need to take the right-hand shock off. A belt costs roughly £218, but if looked after (tension spec adhered to etc) it can last the life of the bike.
“Harley have been building the Sportster range for so long the motor is a proven unit, but the XR’S isn’t a totally standard engine. Much like the new Milwaukee-eight, it has oilcooling around the exhaust valve pockets. The UK race series bikes were totally stock XR motors, which shows how reliable the engine is because it was put through a load of abuse and never overheated!
“Always go for a bike with a good service history, which is every 5000 miles, and as it has hydraulic tappets there are no valve clearances to check. One thing to watch out for is the type of oil used by the owner. While inline fours run 10/30 lightweight oil, a Harley’s aircooled motor needs 20/50 oil as it has to deal with a wider temperature variance and, therefore, needs the thicker oil to protect it. When it comes to performance, a free-flowing air filter and race exhaust matched to a new ECU map makes the bike not only sound great but helps release a bit of extra power and torque and won’t affect reliability.
“There are a few ex-race bikes out there, which are actually quite different to the standard road bike. The racers had a 17in front wheel to widen the tyre choice and also Harris Performance yokes with longer shocks to sharpen the geometry slightly to speed up its handling. Obviously Harley don’t recommend you alter the bike from standard as stability may be compromised, but Harris still sell all the parts required to make an XR racer rep for the road and these are fabulous to ride!”
Examine the belt for nicks and tears and check basics such as the suspension LOOK HERE LOOK HERE